First ICA Water Platform Meeting Paves Way for Action on African Water Infrastructure
The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) held its first ICA Water Platform Meeting on 8 and 9 March 2012 to identify challenges and opportunities in the financing and implementation of Transboundary Water Resource and Climate-Change Adaptation Programs in Africa.
The event, held in Frankfurt and hosted by the German federal ministry for economic cooperation and development (BMZ) and the German development finance company, KfW, provided high-ranking representatives in the African water sector with a small, targeted forum for discussion of shared experience, remaining challenges and innovative approaches before taking these outcomes into the wider arena of the World Water Forum in Marseilles.
ICA was established as a G8 initiative to promote and increase investment and financing for infrastructure in Africa. To this end, the meeting centered on active dialogue designed to mobilize donor resources, create stronger synergy among existing water platforms, and establish a strategic workplan for future ICA activities.
African members of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), two regional economic communities (REC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and ECOWAS, and river basin organizations, made presentations and discussed ways forward alongside ICA-member colleagues from the World Bank, France, Germany, and Japan. This joint collaboration is essential to closing Africa’s financial gaps and unlocking her potential via sound preparation and implementation of infrastructure projects.
In his opening statements, KfW Executive Board Member, Dr Norbert Kloppenburg, set the tone for the gathering and work that lay ahead: “The title of this year’s World Water Forum is ‘It’s time for solutions’. Let me add: It is time for solutions and action.”
Meanwhile, Alex Rugamba, Director of the African Development Bank's fegional integration and trade department and co-chair of the event, expressed strong support for the ICA meeting and its importance for African water infrastructure: “The Water Platform meeting comes at the right time. The Program for Infrastructure Development (PIDA) has been endorsed and the identified nine priority action programs in transboundary water resources are seeking support for preparation and implementation. ICA and its water platform have a role to play in brokering projects and mobilizing financing”.
Joint recommendations included the need for resource mobilization in the preparation and implementation of PIDA and REC priority projects, and for alignment of water sector activities with priorities established by African regional organizations.
Dr Kanangire of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) said he saw widespread benefits to these initiatives, declaring that the “harnassing of shared water resources will lead to socio-economic development, more peace and stability, and ensured environmental stability”. Kanangire also stressed the possibilities for his region: “With a well-established Commission, supported by high-level commitment of partner states, the LVBC is a sea of challenges, but an ocean of opportunities”.
Speaking on behalf of the SADC, Phera Ramoeli, highlighted major challenges to transboundary water infrastructure that include “lack of expertise with regard to successful development of bankable or ‘ready-to-be-taken-forward projects’ for market presentation”.
Discussions on the theme of climate change underlined the importance of adaptation and the need for climate-resilient water sector investment, knowledge sharing in planning climate change adaptation programs, and sound preparation of bankable projects to attract financiers from both the public and private sectors.
Emmanuel Olet, Program Officer for the Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP), opened the presentations on climate change, calling for the “mainstreaming of climate adaptation” and the “alignment and integration of climate financing into ongoing development efforts”.
According to the director of the AfDB's Climate Change Coordination Committee, Aly Abou-Sabaa, “Africa requires USD 22 to 31 billion per year by 2015 and USD 52 to USD 68 billion by 2030 for climate change adaptation measures. These costs are low in comparison with the economic benefits of adaptation and mitigation”. And Africa’s preparation for a resource-scarce future “requires solutions that take into account the nexus between water, food, security and energy”.
AUC Commissioner for rural economy and agriculture, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime repeated this message, underlining Africa’s “pressing need to mobilize resources” to deal with both future climate change and the current hardships brought about by climate. “There has been approximately USD 350m of adaptation funding approved for spending in Africa, of which just USD 130m has been disbursed.”
As the two-day meeting concluded, AUC and AMCOW confirmed their support and desire for close collaboration with the ICA Water Platform, and ICA reconfirmed its alignment of water activities with African priorities. Additional outcomes focused on resource mobilization, enhanced coordination and knowledge sharing tools and initiatives.